Mission among nomads: the case of the Ovahimba

  • Gideon Petersen
  • Pieter Verster
Keywords: Mission, Nomads, Communication, God’s way, Worldview


Karl Barth poignantly argues that the essence of the christian message is that God “makes time for” humanity. Nomads are people on the move. Although in tune with nature, they have a limited understanding of the God of nature. Many nomads do not recognise that the God of nature has time for them and longs to walk their cattle trails with them. In this article, the focus falls on the value of mission communication. It is argued that such communication must use the nomadic genre and recognise the oral worldview of nomads. In this way, the mission practitioner will communicate God’s message more effectively. It will also be argued that immersion is necessary in order to be able to gain such knowledge. However, this immersion is not aimed at converting people; rather, its purpose is to demonstrate that God is one with nomads in their quest to connect with him. This suggests that God redeems the culture and the individual, so that, although the individual lives in the world, he/she is protected from the evil one. Thus, in this article, we contend that the messenger is the message that God is one with humanity – or, to quote Barth: “God makes time for man”.